With planned top pitcher ailing, Chillicothe (3-3) alternated losses and wins in Saturday's (Sept. 14, 2019) Putnam County Invitational, beating Schuyler County and North Callaway

UNIONVILLE, Mo. — Alternating losses and victories, the Chillicothe (Mo.) HS softball Lady Hornets emerged from Saturday’s (Sept. 14, 2019) Putnam County Invitational tournament right where they started, record-wise – at .500.
With their anticipated primary pitcher for the season currently unavailable to handle that chore, although she is playing at a different position, the Lady Hornets (3-3) defeated Schuyler County and North Callaway and lost to Marceline and Clark County in the tourney.
They’ll aim to reestablish a winning overall mark tomorrow when they visit Cameron for Midland Empire Conference action at 4:30 p.m.
With promising freshman righthanded hurler Kinlei Boley unavailable for that chore, at least temporarily, according to head coach Mike Jones, the diamond Lady Hornets effectively split their pitching at Unionville between sophomore Hallie Rucker and senior starting shortstop Abby Jones. A. Jones had not pitched in high school competition since her freshman year when she threw some on the junior-varsity level. Freshman Katelynn Fleener also threw briefly in one game.
Not surprisingly, the four opponents touched them for a combined 39 hits and 33 runs, although the CHS defense made the task tougher at times with multiple errors in each contest. According to statistics turned in by coach Jones, nine of the 33 runs allowed were unearned, although neither of the defeats would have switched to wins with flawless defense.
Both losses, however, were marked by 7-runs innings by the opposition. In the opening-round 14-5 setback against Marceline, the Tigers doubled their already-large 7-0 lead to 14-0 in the top of the fourth. Clark County took a stranglehold on Chillicothe’s last “pool” game when it plated seven in the top of the second after a scoreless first and, despite a late Lady Hornets comeback bid, won 11-7.
Chillicothe pulled out its middle “pool” contest in thrilling fashion.
Trailing Schuyler County 2-1 going to the bottom half of the seventh inning, the Lady Hornets put the potential tying run on base with one out on Boley’s single. Brooke Horton followed with another hit to left, advancing pinch-runner Rucker to second. A 3-pitches strikeout then put the burden on the shoulders of freshman Kirsten Dunn.
With two outs and the tying run still at second, serving as CHS’ “extra hitter” for the game, Dunn also quickly got behind on the count 0-2, but sent the next delivery into left-center field for a game-tying single. On the throw home, Horton went to third and Dunn took second.
That put sophomore leadoff girl Sophia Luetticke at the plate, the best choice CHS could have had on the day. On her way to an eventual 9-of-15 composite tourney with eight runs batted in, the lefthanded hitter stroked her third-straight hit of the game into left-center field, plating Horton with the game-ending run for a 3-2 CHS victory.
Chillicothe’s cross-pool game to close the day saw it use 3-runs innings in the first and third and a 4-runs bottom of the fifth to turn back North Callaway 10-6.
Newly-returned senior first baseman Kiley Kirkpatrick, seeing her first game action after recovering from a basketball season injury, joined Mika Hibner, A. Jones, Horton, and Luetticke in collecting two hits each in the victory. Hibner socked a 2-runs home run in the third inning, one of only four extra-base hits CHS had on the day.
A. Jones (2-0) was the winning pitcher in both Lady Hornets victories in the tourney with Rucker saving the North Callaway triumph by working the final two innings.
In addition to Luetticke’s big day with the bat, Kirkpatrick came off the injured list to go six of eight, including hitting safely in each of her last five at-bats.
Summing up the tournament, coach Jones, while noting pleasure at his team battling to the end of all four games, observed, “We need to keep away from giving up the big inning.”